Neighborhood Design and Travel a Study of Residential Quality, Child Leisure Activity and Trips to School

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Sustainable urban mobility calls for well-informed design of neighborhoods. Although many studies have been conducted in the field, there is little evidence about the relationships between design elements, urban quality and behavior. Little is also known about residents’ valuation of design and urban quality in this context.This study uses a multidisciplinary approach to deal with these issues. The focus is on children’s leisure activities, their travel mode and independence of adult escort in trips to school. Logistic regression models were used to analyze connections between neighborhood design, parents’ satisfaction with urban qualities and children’s behavior. The study included socioeconomic factors, parents’ stated importance of qualities and travel mode to work. It was conducted in a suburban district in the Stockholm region, in three different modernist neighborhoods and one traditional villa area.The results support the hypothesis that environmental and social qualities, and proximity to school, can influence children’s trips to school, and the location and frequency of children’s leisure activities. The results confirm and extend earlier research. Two separate lifestyles were identified across neighborhoods with differencesin housing type and socioeconomic characteristics. They related to parents’ preferences for and priorities of public versus private urban qualities, and location of children’s leisure activity and travel mode to school.The results suggest that schools should be located in neighborhoods, close to both homes and transit, that neighborhoods are car-free or traffic separated and that the outdoor environment is stimulating and cycling-friendly. They further suggest that a higher quality of children’s environment would be achieved if parents’ preferences had greater impact on urban developments, whereas current professional design ideals of mixed traffic and high density can be unsupportive ofthese qualities and can increase car escorts. Altogether, the results point to that design at the neighborhood scale has significance in relation to mobility requirements; and that new priorities are needed in planning and design as part of a comprehensive urban and transportation policy.